Nanny 101: Self-care – On and Off the Job
By: Greta Schraer
Welcome back to Nanny 101. We are going to start today’s lesson with a short pop quiz. So grab a No. 2 pencil and answer the following questions, reflecting on your past year as a nanny:
1. How many times have you gone to work, even though you were sick yourself?
2. How many days have you only realized that you had forgotten to eat at work, by the sound of your own growling tummy?
3. How often have you told your bladder to wait as you cared for a child?
4. Have you ever stayed home the whole weekend to recover from a difficult week on the job?
5. Have you ever gone one whole day only eating leftover scraps of a child’s plate?
Alright, pass your papers to the front of the class. If you chuckled or nodded to one, two, or more of these queations, you are in the majority of the nanny community.
I have noticed common threads in nannies, beyond the love of children. Nannies are a giving, serving, and caring group. We often give of our time and efforts, even to the point of self-sacrifice. I am sure that many veteran nannies would share with the freshman in the class…. to give your best to the children in your care you must first care for yourself. Today Nanny 101 will remind us of some basic ways to care for ourselves – on and off the job.
Lesson 1: The Basics of Food and Water
With a busy household it easy to forget to eat or eat the wrong things. Others may eat in a rush, or feel uncomfortable eating the family’s food. It is important to have control over what you are eating and when you are eating it.
Nanny Susan was adjusting to a new schedule. New baby Eden required much of her attention, as did 4 year-old Benjamin – who was previously an only child. Nanny Susan spent most of Eden’s naps encouraging Benjamin in his alphabet writing. He was very interested in his letters and words, and Nanny Susan did not want to miss one-on-one time with Benjamin. After a few days she realized that she felt drained by 2:00 had a headache, daily. This was her cue to grab some caffeine, tylenol, and whatever she could find to eat.
While Nanny Susan’s heart is in a great place, she is not taking care of herself. Drinking water throughout the day may keep her hydrated without headaches. Packing a well thought out lunch and snacks could energize her and prepare her for the afternoon, before her blood sugar lowers.
Take some time to plan out healthy food to eat. Set out a water cup to remind you to stay hydrated. Think of ways you can incorporate your eating with your children’s schedule. For instance, sit down and eat meals with your kids when at all possible. Take a banana with you each day as you wait at preschool pick-up.
Lesson 2: Incorporating Exercise in your Day
With young children, we can be on our feet a lot! Comfortable clothes and shoes are a must, am I right? I often come home with aching feet thinking, I didn’t even do anything?! I certainly do not feel like heading to the gym after a 10 hour day. Incorporating exercise and recreation into your days with kids is beneficial for you and them. Teach them healthy habits early!
Nanny Margie has recently begun a position with 7 month old triplets. The babies are young and the fact there are three of them, means they are pretty much house bound for the winter. Each day, after the first nap – change – bottle – eating cycle, Nanny Margie loads up the triple stroller, nick-named “The Beast” for it’s brawny structure. It takes some time to get the babies in their seats and ready to go, but she finds that getting outside for a brisk walk around the neighborhood refreshes her and the babies. She looks forward to the day with the triplets will ride bikes and rollerblade along side her.
Nanny Margie has carved out time daily to keep herself moving. It is likely that her mood will be influenced which affect the children and how she carries out the rest of her day. Seeing this as a priority is the first step! Yoga seems to be the popular thing that pre-schools are doing with children. Have you ever had a dance party with your kids? This is my favorite, well, until the boys are old enough to play Wii with me!
Lesson 3: Stop to Rest and Breathe
Carve out time on the job each day to stop and breathe. This one is so much easier said than done. Most of us believe and enforce a nap or quiet time for the kids. We see that they benefit from this as a part of their day. The same can be said for us. Some days I literally put my feet up, other days I eat my lunch on the back porch. It is amazing with 20 minutes of quiet time for nanny can really help.
Nanny Lena is the nanny for one intelligent little girl who has been diagnosed with Autism. Lena is kind, compassionate and dedicated to provide and teach 4 year old Kimmie. Lena is a very hands-on nanny which suits the position appropriately. However, Lena does not ever leave Kimmie’s side. Each day, Lena leaves her job worn out emotionally and physically.
Nanny Lena could benefit from a break in her day. The nanny profession speaks little of a lunch break, like jobs in corporate America. Just like mothers, we are always on the clock. While Kimmie may not nap, she could take a quiet time in her room for 30 or so minutes. During this time, Nanny Lena could sit down and drink some hot tea that always seems to refuel her.
There is rest available but you must find it. At nap time, change your environment. Go to a dark room and close your eyes even for 10 minutes. Sit in the sun and breathe the fresh air. During your commute choose uplifting, happy music. After work take a walk or a swim or a bath. Get a massage every so often. Spend time at church. Whatever it is that calms and rejuvenates you, set aside the time, you are worth it.
Lesson 4: The Balancing Act
Self-care goes beyond the basic physical needs. A healthy nanny will balance the social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical in her life.
Nanny Betsy has noticed her patience wearing thin, lately. She feels exhausted at work and after. She often is too tired to make plans with friends, or spend time at church like she used to. Betsy has noticed a huge change over the last year, since she added hours to her position. She hasn’t painted or drawn a thing; she used to do something creative each weekend.
It is likely that the fuel that used to fill Nanny Betsy has been unknowingly pushed aside by the additional hours she has taken on. Betsy may benefit from choosing the activities that fill her in ways her job cannot, and making those a priority in her life again.
Picture in your mind a large glass pitcher filled with sweet, thirst-quencing, homemade lemonade. YOU are this pitcher. As a nanny you are pouring yourself out to children daily: sharing your experiences, your character, your knowledge, and your love. As you pour yourself out, you must be refilled with something fresh that fills you up. Everything that you have to give is because of what others and experiences have given to you. It is a continuous cycle. The more refreshed you are the more you have to give.
I hope this brief discussion has helped you think about your own current experiences and think about how to care for yourself on and off the job. Take a little time today to do the homework assignment.
1. What habit would it benefit you to add to your meals and snacks with the children?
2. What is one way to exercise with your kids?
3. Do you feel guilty sitting down for 10-20 minutes on the job? Why is that?
4. In what way is your life out of balance. What area need to be increased or decreased?
3 thoughts on “Monday Moxie: Nanny 101: Self-care – On and Off the Job”
The family I nanny for had a rule that everyone must sit together for any meals or snacks, even feeding the 8 month old a bottle!
Fruit sits in a bowl on the table, cups are always kept full, a basket with crayons and paper within reaching distance. The other child, 2, can have a snack or color while the baby has a bottle (if it isn’t an official meal time for the 2 year old).
We all sit together each time until everyone is full.
It has taught both children patience at a young age, and it allows me to eat or snack as well. I haven’t forgotten a meal since they’ve been in my care!
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